Space Systems/Loral

  www.sslmda.com
  www.sslmda.com

Space Systems/Loral Reviews

Updated December 11, 2014
Updated December 11, 2014
133 Reviews
2.4
133 Reviews
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Space Systems/Loral President John Celli
John Celli
64 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Ever since I've been with the company the work life balance has been great (in 12 reviews)

  • great culture, great people, sometimes is pretty laidback, sometimes is pretty busy (in 8 reviews)


Cons
  • Out of touch upper management with lots of redundant layers (in 8 reviews)

  • work/life balance tends to be unbalanced due to fast paced schedules (in 4 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Terrible place to work. So far behind the times and stuck in its ways that it will never catch up to good companies

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    You only have to work 8 hours a day

    Cons

    Politics, compensation, no perks at all, too many levels of management, special treatment for way too many employees because management is afraid to make people upset, old timers are afraid of any kind of change to the design

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Read cons and work on those

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    Going Down the Drain

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The best thing is the regular hours and working with some nice and helpful people. Compensation is ok, but not competitive for the Bay Area. Work-life balance is generally good, but this can vary depending on which department you are in.

    Cons

    Going through a reorganization that will likely not help in the long-term. The company is growth adverse and the scrambling of incompetent management to change course at this point will probably fail. SSL's only real strategy is to continue to bid lower and lower on satellites, reducing profits and increasing workload. Rather than innovate technologically, the company prefers to do whatever is necessary to win contracts, which often means promising satellite capabilities to customers which they can't ultimately deliver.

    For an engineer, the work is not very challenging technically and you will likely develop little (if any) skills that you can take with you to better companies. Instead, you will spend most of your days on the same rudimentary tasks copying similarities from project to project. In addition, the other half of your time may be spent in meetings with depressed groups of engineers going over their individual task lists in isolation without any enthusiasm or group cohesion. There is simply no energy or excitement to improve the product and groups of engineers hardly ever get together to work on implementing any meaningful improvements. As you may be guessing, employee morale is generally low and infighting between some groups is not uncommon. Adding to low morale, the company goes on spells of hiring and then laying off which causes a lot of uncertainty and fear. There have been over 100 layoffs this year while some groups continue to hire. While curiously a lot of good people are starting to leave on their own.

    In conclusion, with more competitors entering the market, and roughly the same number of geo satellites being built a year, the company must simply find a way to expand its business. I myself do not put a lot of faith in SSL's current management and wouldn't bet on them making the changes necessary to be a world leader let alone survive in the long-term.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Step aside.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Amazing people, but company going through some challenges

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    You get to work with some of the smartest folks in the space industry if not in the Bay Area. All work is done in small teams. There is very little politics. The product (which is a spacecraft) is incredibly cool, and it's amazing to be able to work at one of only a handful of spacecraft manufacturers that exist in the world. There is tremendous flexibility to work on different projects. The people working at this company are mostly very nice and good human beings. (I know this sounds corny, but this is not always the case, and it's important that the company promotes this kind of culture.)

    Vacation, sick days, 401(k) match, and other benefits are excellent. They are being cut back, but they are still way above par for the Bay Area. The company also pays for business class travel for international travel for all employees, not just senior management.

    Cons

    The company is going through a lot of changes related to profitability challenges. There is lots of work, but the work being brought in has negative profit margins. The upside is that this has stimulated the company to think of new ways of doing business. That's in the long term. The downside in the short term is that there is an emphasis on cutting costs. This also means no raises for the last two years. Last year there was also no bonus.

    There are very few perks. Free coffee and tea was just introduced a couple months ago. There is still no free filtered/bottled water. The cafeteria food is rather subpar and will probably never change for the better. Don't even think about the company ever having free food or even subsidized cafeteria food.

    All decision making is routed up the chain to the top. Frequently truly trivial decisions have to be made by the CEO because all other management up the chain is afraid to make the decision and put their neck on the line. The company is talking about changing that, but so far it's been all lip service because this is a deeply entrenched part of the company culture. Example: all cell phone requests, even requests to have the mobile email application installed on one's personal device, have to be routed for signature to the employee's manager, then executive director, then the VP of the organization, and then the VP of IT. Does something so trivial really require so many signatures?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Most of the senior management probably ought to leave/retire for the company to be able to turn the page and return to its glory days. This is the only way to change the culture and re-energize the company.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5.  

    More layoffs last week

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Systems Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Systems Engineer in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Ship is sinking
    They are hiring lots of junior job seekers

    Cons

    Upper MGT does not have a clue what to do

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Quit in the face of impending disaster

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Uncontrolled reentry

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Get to work on spacecraft. Some employees are incredibly well learned and its a pleasure to work with them. (Of course, for the majority, this is not the case)

    Cons

    > Management fires good employees, seemingly at random, while people who do not do their job and cost the company a lot of money are allowed to stay
    > working hard, going the extra mile, doing a great job is rewarded with more work, more responsibility, and decreases in compensation. In other words, absolutely no respect for employees.
    > below average pay for the aerospace industry
    > awful pay for the Bay Area
    > pathetic bonus, which is often not given and has continued to decrease over the years with a confusing bonus system that doesn't make any sense
    > benefits have been cut 2 to 4 times a year over the past two years
    > understaffed departments along with the previously mentioned random cutting/layoffs mean the work life balance is drastically shifting to the work side
    > clueless upper management
    > powerless middle management
    > management makes decision with no regard or consultation with employees for how the decisions will impact teams
    > management thinks a pat on the back every now and then will make up for all of the above cuts
    > moral is at an all time low
    > constant reorganization of the company which seemingly have no impact other than to waste more money in upper management
    > absolutely no real direction as to the future of the company, lots of talking points and buzzwords but no actual content or clear path to the future. Discussing your concern with management will simply result in the same talking points being regurgitated
    > no accountability
    > backstabbing common by the previously mentioned awful employees
    > politics are WILD and I mean WILD.

    This used to be an amazing place to work overall. It's amazing how much has changed since the MDA takeover.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Quit. You're living in the 60s and allowing compensation levels of the 80s for a high tech company in 2014. Everything you are doing is hidden in a shroud from the actual contributors.

    There is a reason moral is so low: You.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    downward spiral with no hope of improvement in sight

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    -The company has some decent benefits such as vacation, decent 6% 401k match and also occasionally interesting chance to meet people through the aerospace lunchtime lectures/networking opportunities.

    Cons

    Company had another layoff today with 50 people being let go, this layoff process has been ongoing since this summer.

    The con list is large for the company
    -Old engineer mafia that is afraid of change and innovation, this mafia believes Not Invented Here syndrome is a good thing
    -Increasingly toxic and depressing corporate culture due to the current downsizing/cost cutting phase being push by MDA
    -not enough capital or human investment to improve the products or reduce production costs over time
    -Out of touch upper management with lots of redundant layers
    -no good perks and other extras which contrasts poorly to the better atmosphere found at nearby SV companies
    -Cost cutting also means no pay raises and also the benefits recently changed again to high deductible health insurance plans

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop treating the employees like dirt, you tell us all the time about how the employee is needed to reform, change and improve the company so it doesn't go under, while at the same time creating a completely deplorable work environment.

    Good company culture and employees in the foundation of a successful company

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    Probably won't be your dream job, might be your nightmare.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Space Systems/Loral

    Pros

    Some nice, friendly people work there.
    Hiring process is quick and easy.
    Decent benefits which start on Day 1.
    Free hot beverages.

    Cons

    Training, Health and especially Safety not a priority.
    Lack of planning and leadership ensures maximum worker distress.
    Many unhappy employees practicing the 80/20 Rule. 80% Whining and Backstabbing 20% Working.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Create some management oversight . Conduct safety audits often . Include feedback from subordinates in manager review process.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Extremely formalized bureaucratic company. Very incompetent management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Engineering Specialist in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Engineering Specialist in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    It is quite simple to sit and do nothing given you hit the right spot in the company. (Assuming it's OK with you) This could explain a significant portion of positive reviews. If you do not mind sitting and pressing keyboard buttons strictly following instructions that sometimes do not make any sense - it's place for you.

    Cons

    If you think your job should be a bit more than cutting sugar cane 40+ hours a week to make a descent living consider other places. Also if you are highly skilled in politics you may have a chance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please retire. You are wrong people in the wrong place.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Twenty years behind the times

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - A Senior Engineering Role in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - A Senior Engineering Role in Palo Alto, CA

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    This is certainly subjective, but for me I think the only benefit was a steady paycheck while I continued to take interviews and to soul-search on what career path to follow moving forward.

    Since I was looking for a job from the moment I started at SSL, this review may not be fair. But truthfully, I went in with the desire to really contribute something and do a good job for SSL, and I wanted to make it worth their while and give them something I could be proud of.

    Interestingly, a colleague of mine at SSL once told me that she thought SSL is a place that people end up when they don't know what else to do...essentially also saying that she was just working for a paycheck.

    Cons

    In my experience, the company just wants to put bodies in front of computers.

    When I interviewed at SSL, I was very specific about what I thought I could offer, what my level of commitment would be, and what my interests were...essentially putting an offer at risk in the process. I realized pretty early on that they didn't really listen to any of that.

    I didn't see any real effort put into career development at SSL, but in fairness that may have just been my group. SSL is very good at its core business, but falls on its face whenever it tries to extend beyond that.

    The company will survive as long as people want to buy GEO transponders, and hopefully longer, but they will have to learn how to innovate. When SSL has a bad year, it is quickly passed down to its employees, and it doesn't take much to have a bad year when so few GEO satellites are built per year.

    Another big negative, in my opinion, is the overtime expectation is utterly incommensurate with any benefits offered by the company...including the salary. My time is worth something to me, and I'm not going to burn overtime hours at SSL when there is simply no quid pro quo in the deal.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management are in a bind when it comes to the prospect of implementing any meaningful and positive change at SSL without making significant changes to their corporate strategy. If the company's business model continues to depend entirely on very large GEO transponders (essentially), then margins will continue to be small, salaries and benefits will continue to be poor, and most really good engineers will go elsewhere. Currently, SSL can't even come close to competing with the Googles, Facebooks, LinkedIns, or even with the Skyboxes of Silicon Valley.

    SSL should probably pull up stakes and move to a cheaper part of the country, so what SSL can afford to pay their people will actually allow those people to buy a house near where they work, if they so choose. Maybe they should time this with the next Chapter 11 filing and/or re-amortization of major assets.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11.  

    Lost in Space

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Space Systems/Loral full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    We have great employees who really care about each other and who want to work for a Company that cares about them.

    Cons

    This used to be a great Company - family feel with lots of caring about the employee, the product, the culture, the community. That's no longer the case. The morale is so low, everyone is depressed. No raises for years and rumors of nothing coming down the pike.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Don't change just for the SAKE of change.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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